Pastworld by Ian Beck, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble


3.8 11
by Ian Beck

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What if all of London were really an amusement park—a whole city returned to Victorian times to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? That's the wildly original premise of Ian Beck's Pastworld, a high-stakes mystery set in a simulated past.

Eve is a lifelong resident of Pastworld who doesn't know she's living in a theme park until a


What if all of London were really an amusement park—a whole city returned to Victorian times to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? That's the wildly original premise of Ian Beck's Pastworld, a high-stakes mystery set in a simulated past.

Eve is a lifelong resident of Pastworld who doesn't know she's living in a theme park until a mysterious threat forces her to leave home. Caleb is a visiting tourist who finds the lawlessness of the past thrilling—until he suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system. And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He's the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the present, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.

Page-turning, complex, and haunting, Pastworld masterfully exposes the human experience of the past, of violence, of technology, and of entertainment.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
London in 2048 has become one vast Victorian-themed amusement park (there's even an “artificial fog bank”) under the control of the powerful Buckland Corporation. Caleb Brown, 17, and his father, one of Pastworld's architects, are attacked and separated as soon as they visit the exclusive tourist destination. Accused of murder and on the run, Caleb is quickly drawn into Pastworld's underbelly; at its center is the mysterious Fantom, a crime lord with a bloody reputation. Caleb's fate eventually becomes entangled with that of Eve, a beautiful teenage circus performer with little memory of her past. The theme park strives for absolute authenticity, and Beck (The Secret History of Tom Trueheart) relishes in some grisly details (the laws in Pastworld are antiquated as well, and certain crimes are punishable by public execution). As the central protagonist (besides a security officer who is drawn into solving Pastworld's dark mysteries), Caleb is remarkably passive; only Eve takes control of her destiny, rejecting her predetermined role as victim. Though the story has its flaws, steady action and an inventive concept keep this a fast-paced adventure. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Imagine visiting London. . .Victorian London. . .as a citizen of the future. In this combination fantasy/historical novel, Caleb has the opportunity to visit Victorian London as a tourist with his father, a Buckland Corporation employee who was one of the people primarily responsible for "tourist London's" existence. But during their visit, Caleb's father is kidnapped by a dark figure called the Fantom who is known for his murderous ways and the bloody tokens that he takes from his victims: their hearts. A connected subplot involves Eve, who has no memory of her existence before her fifteenth birthday; when she leaves her guardian's home to pursue a career in the circus, she is a natural—almost too natural. She, too, is connected to Caleb's father and the Fantom, and it is in the unwinding of these subplots that we get the real story of the Buckland Corporation's intentions for Eve and the Fantom as well as the other citizens of Pastworld London. This is a solid adventure story that clearly has been well-researched to create the authentic feel of London past; further, the ethical situations it invokes will give readers quite a bit to consider. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
VOYA - Summer Hayes
Life is so dull and regulated in the year 2048 that England's citizens are willing pay top dollar to experience gritty Victorian-era London via the Buckland Corporation's theme park called Pastworld. Filled with actors and full-time residents with whom the touring "Gawkers" interact, Pastworld is also home to an illegal and very real criminal underground led by the Fantom, a ruthless murderer who decapitates his victims before removing their hearts. When seventeen-year-old Pastworld resident Eve runs away from her guardian, she sets off a chain of events that uncovers not only her own previously unknown true identity but also that of the Fantom. As their intertwined destinies are revealed, they threaten to expose the darkest secrets of Pastworld and the Buckland Corporation. This book is heavy on plot and very light on substance. Characters are thinly drawn with little attention paid to motivation, resulting in an unconvincing cast based on physical description rather than personality. Although the intertwining narratives offer interest through multiple points of view, plot threads languish for chapters at a time and the choppy, disjointed results dampen the suspense in this fast-paced story. It is unfortunate that the complex and interesting themes begging for exploration, such as the tension between future and past worlds and the moral implications of bio-engineering, are barely addressed. Despite an intriguing premise, this one will likely satisfy neither the science fiction nor mystery fans it is meant to attract. Reviewer: Summer Hayes
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In 2050, civilization has become sterile, controlled, peaceful, and very, very boring. In an effort to capitalize on the ennui of the rich and famous, Buckland Corporation has created the ultimate vacation destination: Pastworld, a city modeled after 19th-century London where visitors also known as "gawkers" can immerse themselves in a Victorian world complete with grueling poverty, near-primitive medicine, lawlessness, and a casual disregard for human life. When 17-year-old Caleb Brown enters Pastworld with his father, one of the theme park's creators, he is unwittingly embroiled in a Scotland Yard investigation of a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders. Befriended by a young pickpocket and a beautiful girl with amnesia, he fights for his life and future in the dark underbelly of Pastworld. Readers who enjoyed Eleanor Updale's "Montmorency" series (Scholastic) will find this novel equally suspenseful and gripping. This spellbinding page-turner will keep readers on the edge of their seats.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
To a Victorian London setting add a dash of airships, a pinch of spycams and a generous helping of gruesome murder for a collection of story elements bound to please. Pastworld is a theme park, a fully immersive reconstruction of Victorian England in 2050 London. A Ripper-like murderer, the Fantom, has emerged, and somehow he is connected to the theme park's leaders. The mystery draws together a disparate cast of characters into a cacophonous narrative: a well-meaning but callow youth from outside the park, an intrepid police inspector, an Artful Dodger type with a heart of gold and a 17-year-old girl with no memory of her youth. Thoroughly inexpert prose-painfully contrived diary entries that punctuate the narrative stand out as examples of this-doesn't change the fact that romance and grisly murder among gas lamps will be sure to win fans. The stereotyped stock characters are likable and the predictable plotlines are enjoyable, so what's wrong with that? (Science fiction. 13-15)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ian Beck is a popular illustrator and author, whose work spans album covers, picture books, and fiction. Ian lives in southwest London with his wife and three children.

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